Take a trip to Urinetown

Satire pokes fun but raises important issues

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

The cast of Urinetown

Courtesy of Crystal MacDonald

LOOKS JUST LIKE MY FAMILY REUNION. The cast of Urinetown: The Musical will premier onstage tonight at the Althouse main auditorium. The show runs until this Saturday.

“It’s like someone shook a bottle and the cork is about to come off,” says co-head of publicity, Jason Garramone, describing the excitement of the cast and crew of Urinetown: The Musical in the days leading up to opening night.

From Feb. 25 to 28, the Faculty of Education’s intermediate senior drama class is presenting the Tony Award-winning musical in the main auditorium at Althouse. It’s the story of a water shortage brought on by a 20-year drought, forcing all human waste removal to be done using public toilets " toilets owned and operated by a mega-corporation. As the fee to use these toilets goes up, so does political and social unrest, igniting an epic grudge match between the town’s rich and poor citizens.

Satirizing capitalism, social conditions, environmentalism and the musical itself, Urinetown aims to deliver laughs while also calling attention to some serious issues.

“It’s a fun musical that doesn’t take itself too seriously. So you’re there to have a good time,” says Michael Kolodziej, who plays Senator Fipp, a greedy politician.

Urinetown’s underlying themes " specifically environmentalism " is one reason why the play will appeal to students, according to Michelle Logan, who plays Little Sally.

“It has this serious sort of undertone,” she says, citing the premise of the play being a water shortage " an issue increasingly making the news in real life.

“It’s funny, but at the same time you’ve got this environmental theme and people are taking environmental issues so seriously today " and they need to.”

Boasting a cast of 20, plus musicians and a large crew, the production of Urinetown has proven to be a team effort. Comprised of a healthy mixture of seasoned drama enthusiasts and rookies, Logan explains the diverse cast has added a lot to the show.

“They bring a totally different perspective to those of us with a drama background ... there’s this new energy that it brings,” she says. Logan also explains having soon-to-be music teachers proved valuable when it came time to practice vocals and to learn the show’s 15 musical numbers.

Leading up to tonight’s premier performance, the cast and crew rehearsed an average of 20 hours per week; having been preparing for tonight since October, they’re feeling pretty confident.

“Our first dress rehearsal was on Friday and it went really well, so we feel like this extra time now before opening night is just a bonus to keep working on it and getting it to be the best that we can,” Logan says.

“I don’t find it stressful,” Kolodziej adds.

If the enthusiasm and excitement of the cast and crew serves as any precursor for the production itself, will not be an event to miss.

“Just like Hugh Jackman said at [Sunday] night’s Oscars: the musical is back. You might as well start it off right and come see Urinetown,” Logan says.

Urinetown: The Musical runs tonight through Saturday Feb. 28, with shows at 7:30 p.m. and a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the Althouse cafeteria, at The Grand Theatre Box Office or at the door before performances. Tickets are $10 for students and $15 for general admission with a two-for-one deal on Thursday.

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